Every religion is marked with traditions and rituals. Be it in wedding or any cultural or festive occasion, religions are known through their traditional and cultural values only. Muslims too, have strong cultural and traditional beliefs and they are seen quite well pronounced in weddings. However, much before the actual wedding functions starts Muslims have their own pre-wedding rituals, which they follow stringently. These again are found to be little varied depending upon the couple’s culture and branch of Islam.
Henna ceremony is the most popular pre-wedding ritual known in a Muslim family. In fact, be it India, South Asia or Middle East, henna ceremonies are a time for family bonding, fun and frolic. They are always held a few days before the actual wedding and involve the participation of women of the house, who also are the close relatives of the bride. Henna designers create fine designs of the henna paste through cone application on to the bride’s hand and feet. Other women also apply the same on their hands. When dry, the henna paste imparts a deep dark reddish brown tinge on the skin. This colour stays for weeks and is often known as auspicious for the bride. The henna is presented to the bride with several costumes and jewellery and is considered a part of wedding gift and ritual.
Traditional bath is also a part of Muslims pre-wedding ritual. It is supposed to cleanse the bride and thereby purify them for the auspicious wedding ceremony. In Egypt, brides’ bath from the water of Nile River, as this is believed to be pure. In Pakistani Punjab villages, there is the tradition in which the bride’s family members visit the groom’s house and witness the groom’s ritual bath. In Morocco, the bathing ritual goes one for 5 days and is often accompanied by musicians, who sing wedding songs to brighten and add to the traditional feel of the wedding.
Sharing a drink
In some Turkish Muslims, sharing a drink is considered as a symbol of engagement and family union. The local Imam or the Muslim priest often suggests that the fathers’ of the bride and groom make the betrothal official by sharing a drink. Before this they have to make the announcement of the engagement official by repeating the same three times. The entire family drinks sherbet to this declaration.
In some Muslim nations, male members of the family go to a mosque to meet for noon prayers, which is considered to be sealing the proposal formally. The male members go to the mosque on a Friday and conduct a ceremony called ‘Fatwa’, in which prayers are made to thank the god and bless the-would be couple.
Muslim nations like Bangladesh follow the turmeric ceremony, in which the raw turmeric paste is applied to the bride’s body to enhance the beauty and skin tone. The groom’s family often send the turmeric paste with gifts like clothes and jewels. Since Bangladesh is a Muslim cum Bengali dominated nation, the weddings are also a little influenced by Bengali traditions, so the bride always wears the traditional yellow cotton sari with red border, during the turmeric ceremony. A similar ritual is also performed for the groom as well.
Traditions mark the completion of a wedding ceremony and like others, Muslims are rich in their social rituals and customs. They often celebrate their weddings with due tradition and festivity.